CM Punk's in-ring return and Cena-Ryback II headline the debut of WWE Payback tonight. The
Rosemont Chicago pay-per-view has drawn speculation about CM Punk's true status for the show as well as possible heel turns from top stars.
Will CM Punk show up? Is he still a bad guy? Will Jericho align himself with Paul Heyman?
In attempting to sift through the many storylines for tonight's pay-per-view, it might be easier to explain what's not going to happen, than what will.
Unless, of course, WWE is into the whole riot scene in Chicago. Punk's return is what is selling the tickets for Payback—a first-time WWE pay-per-view with no built-in goodwill—and having him no-show just to get heat would be a cruel act liable to backfire given the hot crowd.
Sure, CM Punk has barely tweeted a letter about the WWE during his time away, but this will add to the novelty of him returning to the ring.
Vince McMahon tweeted about Punk's return this past week to assure the WWE fanbase that Punk will be in action come Sunday.
Should Punk not wrestle at Payback, that would be one rub the WWE would surely regret.
Ryback's big match losing streak should continue in his Three Stages of Hell match against John Cena. Ryback will be made to look relatively strong, as he should score one fall over Cena.
But like it or not, it's simply too early to end Cena's run with the WWE Championship after chasing WWE's holy grail for over a year.
Daniel Bryan, Chris Jericho and Randy Orton are all candidates to turn heel tonight. Bryan and Orton's building tension could cause one of these two high-profile babyfaces to turn heel, and CM Punk's warm welcoming could result in the same fate for Jericho.
But one, not all, of these scenarios will occur, as WWE will not want to over-play their heel-turn hand.
Speaking of heel turn, CM Punk, despite his brilliance as a heel prior to his sabbatical, will be a babyface whether the WWE knows it or not.
Punk will be returning to his hometown crowd after a long layoff, and no promo or underhanded tactic will get in the way of the Allstate Arena's love affair with Phil Brooks.
The WWE did a good job making a big deal out of The Shield's "first loss in a six-man tag team match." WWE protects The Shield very well, and the stable will continue to be protected with a clean sweep of wins.
The Shield losing should be kept rare. The venerability of the group will be good for fan interest in WWE Payback, but WWE would be wise to keep The Shield strong.